Getting a pro to do your e-book cover is a good idea. Like it or not, everyone judges a book by its cover. But I’ve also seen a lot of bad pro or semi-pro covers. Usually, they’re way overdone: too many elements, too much going on.
Now, I had intended to get a pro to design the covers for each of the two collections of short stories that I’m planning to release in the coming weeks. I even had sketches drawn up. Then I came across what struck me as the perfect image for the first collection, so I did a little work on it in Paint.net (which is a free program) and voila!
It needs some touching up, no doubt; but I think it works.
As the title suggests, the four stories are thematically related–they’re all dream stories. Three might fit into the supernatural suspense genre, and one is more of a soft science fiction piece.
I think the cover’s aesthetic fits this theme. The dark, undulating water and the distorted Moon suggest the unrestrained, unpredictable nature of dreams. Add in the greenish light welling up from the depths and you have an icon of the Dionysian.
I’ll admit that I picked the Gothic Copperplate typeface more because I like it than anything else. Another choice might work better. But all in all, I think it’s a good cover for my particular book.
For what it’s worth, here’s how I did it.
I found the image by chance on my hard drive. I was looking for a profile picture for my website when I came across this distorted picture of Niagara Falls that my wife had taken. It’s the sort of picture you’d normally delete, but it struck me as soon as saw it.
The city lights seemed inappropriate to the theme. The world of dreams is not the real one and city lights invite it in. So I used the “cloning” feature in Paint.net to remove them. Then I added the text. It took a few tries to get it right. I initially forgot that the font had to be large enough to be read as a thumbnail, which is crucial for selling online.
The whole business took about six hours. But five of those were taken with learning Paint.net, which was new to me.
Now, I realize that seeing the wizard behind the curtain spoils the effect a little. Moreover, it was so simple to do that it’s bound to seem amateurish now that you know how I did it. But I decided to open the curtain anyway, because someone of lesser means—who’s nonetheless endowed with creativity—might not be held back from publishing for want of a cover.
Anyway, let me know what you think.